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Nigerians; Poor people in a rich country | By Adediji Wasiu

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Among developing countries, Nigeria is a relatively rich country with abundant human and natural resources. Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world. In 2019 estimate, its population was approximately 200 million, Nigeria accounts for about 47% of West Africa’s population, and has one of the largest populations of youth in the world.

Nigeria’s economy depends heavily on the oil and gas sector, which contributes 99 percent of export revenues, 85 percent of government revenues, and about 52 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The petroleum sector being the mainstay of the Nigeria economy, contributing 36% to annual GDP, 75% to government revenues and accounting for virtually all foreign exchange earnings. In addition, despite the presence of millions of acreage of reserve mineral resources (oil and non-oil sectors) and large resources of humans found in Nigeria, the country has remained a victim of underdevelopment, several decades after the end of colonialism, most parts of Nigeria especially the rural area is still battling with problems such as high poverty rate, lack of basic infrastructural facilities in all sectors of the economy, unemployment, high mortality rate, and insecurity of lives and property. Nigeria hasn’t been able to unlock and maximize her potentials to build a prosperous economy, reduce poverty significantly, and provide health, education, and infrastructure services its population needs.

Nigeria was ranked the global poverty capital of the world with a high degree of unemployment by global development index. Despite possessing vast acreage of natural resources and experiencing positive economic growth, Nigeria’s Human Development Index (HDI) value in 2017 was 0.471, which places the country 154th out of 187 countries.

Furthermore, in the World Bank Human Development Report released in November 2018, Nigeria ranked 157th out of 189 countries. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, high poverty and unemployment rates has continued to highlight the need for Nigeria to pay more attention to achieving inclusive growth.

The key question is why improved economic and high revenue generation from oil and non-oil sectors have not translated into greater improvements in rapid infrastructural development and social welfare, especially among the rural-urban masses?

One of the goals of sustainable development goals (SDGs) is eradicating poverty in all its forms in year 2030. However, poverty remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in Nigeria. While the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped by more than half between 1990 and 2015, unfortunately, according to United Nation, 98 million of Nigerians are in multidimensional poverty; that’s 50% of Nigeria’s population are still struggling for the most basic human needs.

What this means is that as of 2019, about 98 million Nigerians still lived on less than US$1.90 a day; many lack food, access to clean drinking water and quality education.

In the last six decades, Nigeria has undergone many economic reform, growth and social investment policies before and after returns of democracy, every successive government has initiated one policy or the order on diversification of Nigeria’s economy from oil based economy to more competitive non-oil driven economy, yet it has always being a lip service with little or no efforts put to work in moving the economy from one commodity driven economy to a more open economy with low inflation, and high per capital base trade.

More so, according to the Microeconomics outlook by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), the report stated in the 2000s, Nigeria enjoyed a decade of high GDP growth averaging 7.6 per cent, adding that the period under review was accompanied by high levels of unemployment and poverty, “which could be largely attributed to the concentration of growth in just a few sectors; hence the country’s growth was not broad-based.

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Oddly enough, the role of the non-oil sectors remains under-performed, even though, it contribute 90.86 percentage to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at first quarter of 2019 higher than recorded in the first quarter of 2018 (90.45%) but lower than the fourth quarter of 2018 (92.94%). Radically, both the oil sector and non-oil sectors have remain the bedrock of corruption, and with the privatization of state-owned enterprises in oil, telecommunications, airways and electricity, and despite huge money budgeted for infrastructure development, it hasn’t resulted to more growth, rather, it has resulted in more job losses and substantially discounted terminal benefit to Nigeria .

Why did Nigeria as a nation fail over and over again?

To answer this question, permit me to share a narratives by Mr. Moses Ihiabe in a book titled “Why Nation Fail’ all over again, the author postulates that corruption, oppression, absence of social justice and bad education has kept a nation perpetually poor. He says a few percentage of the people in the political class perpetuate themselves in such a way to amass public funds for self-aggrandizement, thereby creating an unnecessary scarcity of resources to fund public facilities and institutions. ‘Most nations are poor precisely because it has been ruled by a narrow elite that have organized society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it’, he said.

To appreciate that view by the author, I decide to rephrase the author’s rhetorical question in Nigeria context, why Nigeria fail, over again? The author’s accurate premises suit Nigeria situation. I can’t agree less. It provides an insight why we failed as a nation despite abundant resources in human and natural resources.

Undoubtbly, our situation since 1960 that the destiny of our dear nation has being placed in the hand of her narrow minded political elites, it has been an outcry for cases of corruption, oppression, injustices, human right abuse and absence of sound economic policy framework to facilitate and accelerate creation of an inclusive economic opportunities for the vast majority of her populace, which is crucial in addressing the pertinent issues of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, instead, the political elites have continued to organized society for their own benefits at the expense of the vast mass of people. Every successive government has continued to dance to the tone of few cabals or class of political elites that continued to hold our nation’s in hostage and dictating the wheel of her progress.

Unfortunately, despite the abundant resources in human and natural resources both tapped and untapped resources, there is prevalent scale of poverty in Nigeria, approximately, more than 60% of Nigeria’s populous can’t afford one meal a day, which is less than a dollar per day and significant percentage of majority of the children in Nigeria, especially those in rural areas have no access to basic education and avoidable health care services. Millions of households in Nigeria and the vulnerable have no access to quality health care delivery, and other basic necessities. Nevertheless, high poverty level persists, especially in rural areas, and the gap between income groups in terms of human capital and access to basic services is growing. In addition to chronic poverty, there is widespread vulnerability as environmental, economic, and other shocks frequently affect many households.

Nigeria remains an under developed country with a relatively high level of poverty index. According to UNICEF, as at 2018, close to 13.2 million children were out-of-school, which is the highest number in the world. In addition to the core challenge of access to portable water, children malnourished by hunger, basic education, epileptic power supply, high mortality index rate and poor infrastructure deficit, the quality of learning across government-owned schools from elementary to higher institutions is significantly low across the country, from North to South, East to West are being ravaged by the same problem of under-development.

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Since 1960, the country has gone through series of internal war ranges from inter-ethnic war, religious war, territory control war and the country has turn to cesspool of corruption and misrule which has led to a remarkable sharp increase in rate of inflation and made life unbearable for her citizens with average Nigerian life expectancy at birth remains at 54 years, below the SSA average of 60.7 years. Nigeria continues to rank within the category of countries with ‘Low Human Development.

Colonization and Under-development

In a sense, most Africans independence came at a time in which many African leaders were only interested in grabbing power but were intellectually unprepared for governance, one might say, Nigeria progress has being compromiyse from the time of colonialism. The major reason while Africa continent remains in perpetual and underdeveloped despite many abundance is because most colonized Africa countries, got freedom hurriedly without any post plan for power sharing, resources control and governance.

If we are to compare our situation and that of many other African’s colonized nation to that of Ethiopia, the only uncolonized nation in Africa. Despite sharing the same geographical position on the plate of the world, Ethiopia is fast ahead of other Africa colonized Nations in development index from health, security, and infrastructural development, Ethiopia is more prosperous than many colonized African countries.

Africa continent prior to colonialism was not economically isolated from the rest of the world. Indeed, African states had engaged in documenting her history, trade from the time of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Who would ever believe that development started from Africa, particularly in the field of engineering, education, medicine, astronomical and that education actually started from Africa, Al-azhr University of Egypt, Cairo was the first and oldest university on earth and the very first place on earth where written was first done was Egypt and that west Africa specifically had developed extensively in international and regional trade with her own system of counting, money and trading pattern long before western world involving.

Without gain saying, I would say that colonization has done us more harm than good. Prior to the “Scramble for Africa,” or the colonization of Africa countries by the major European nations, African economies were advancing in every area, particularly in the area of trade, innovation, African science (metabolic power) and African were moving at very fast pace. Unfortunately, as soon as colonialism happened to her, we became a continent without direction and our rich history and natural development of the African economic system were altered completely. Our culture, food, dressing, and ways of life were viewed as uncivilized, in fact, everything about us was altered for foreign lifestyle.

Our situation in Nigeria is not lack of resources but lack of good and innovative leadership to turn around things with possible and shortest time.

Now, what could be done differently ?

By 2030, one of the goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is significant reduction by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions. This means that as a member of United Nation, we must triple our efforts and key into this goal, develop the right conditions for sustainable growth and reduced the disparities between low level class income  and higher income earners.

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Government must reduce inequality line between all men and women of all ages in all dimensions by leveraging resources across and develop the right enabling environment to reduced poverty rate and strengthen our economy through social investment program targeted towards the poor and the vulnerable .

There is need to improve opportunities in all dimensions. Government, non- government organizations must appropriate new technology and financial services, including micro-finance gear towards improving local innovations in science and technology to enhance global competitiveness and create sustainable 21st century jobs opportunity for the teaming youth. Hence, there is a need to map out strategic policies framework that would foster social investment and innovation by facilitating collaborations between government, non-governmental organizations and schools.

Government must appropriate new laws and implement old laws, fulfill their electoral promises and create policies to end poverty in all dimensions.

Non- governmental organizations must sustain their momentum towards significant mobilization of resources in order to provide adequate and predictable means in helping the poor and the vulnerable, while pushing for equal rights to economic resources, access to quality health care, education, this would help to reduce the disparities between the poor and rich to a minimum level for overall development of an inclusive and competitive economy.

Government must improve on transparency of social safety net programmes to ensure that the resources and other relief materials are  targeted at the poor and the vulnerable irrespective of political ideology, while pushing and galvanizing support for passage of laws in National and State Assembly to ensure equal rights of all Nigerians.

There is need to create access to economic resources instead of what is presently obtainable in our society that few percentage of the people in the political circle amass public funds for their self and family aggrandizement.

To put Nigeria on the path of continuous economy growth, relevant cooperate organizations, individuals and non-governmental organizations must help government to develop strategies and create sound policy frameworks at the national, state and local government levels to accelerated investment in poverty eradication and open access of the poor and the vulnerable to basic services in rural area that will discourage rural urban migration and make life easier for the poor and the vulnerable.

Conclusively, there is need for attitudinal change and our ways of life, if Africa and indeed Nigeria is to catch up with the rest of the world. We need to focus on institutional reforms that would compel people to be more pragmatic, accountable either in their private business or in government position. Also, there is need to push for enactment of policies and strategic frameworks that will lead to inclusive economy growth and brake the barrier enacted by the oppressing system between the poor and rich.

 

 

Adediji Wasiu, is a petroleum technologist and public affairs analyst

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National Issues

‘Only good governance will silence Social media criticism’, says NCC Chief

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The Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),Professor Adeolu Akande has said only good governance will silence social media from its criticism of government.

The NCC boss who spoke as Guest Speaker at the Annual Lecture of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Oyo State chapter in Ibadan, on Tuesday also noted  that the agitation against the social media because of criticism of government through the medium will not stop such criticism,saying when government performs well,the social media is bound to respond positively.

According to him, “When government performs well,the social media is abuzz with praises for the government. When government fails,the social media is abuzz with condemnation. The best way to silence the social media is to strive and do well”.

Speaking on the topic,”Revisiting the role of journalism in Good Governance in Nigeria”, Professor Akande averred that the media promotes good governance by playing the role of  watchdog, civic forum and agenda setting for government.

He said the media is important in the quest for good governance because many elements of good governance like transparency, accountability, greater participation in government, access to information, rule of law and human rights, cannot be achieved without the media.

The professor of Political Science identified Paid News Journalism ans Social Media as two new developments with great impact on the role of journalism in promoting good governance.

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On Paid News which he said is the institutionalised commercialisation of news, Akande said it undermines the credibility of the media before the public because news is supposed to be well researched and objective.

“The public takes whatever news that come from the media as gospel truth. When it turns out that such news are not true or not objective and altruistically produced,this erodes the confidence of the public in the media and weakens its capacity to promote good governance.

The Don emphasized that the advent of the social media has changed the fortune of journalism in Nigeria and worldwide. He said the social media produces news real time and offer other services the media offers in a way that challenges the continued existence of the mainstream media even while its excessess has raised concerns in many quarters.

Professor Akande called on the federal government to intensify its financial  interventions in the media industry because the sector is going through trying period and should not be allowed to go into paralysis because of its critical role in promoting good governance and national development.

The NCC Chief further argued that just like  the collapse of banking and aviation sectors would affect the econony adversely,the collapse of the media industry will equally have devatating effect on the society.

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“The effect of the parlous  econony  may not manistest quickly in the media sector as it does in banking and aviation,but the truth is that the  effect would be devatastating on the society.

He lauded the federal government for the initiative to support  the media industry with access to single digit loan to survive the economic challenges caused by COVID 19 pandemic.

 

 

 

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National Issues

#ENDSARS: Buhari to address the Nation at 7pm on Thursday

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President Muhammadu Buhari will make will make a national broadcast Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7pm.

This was stated in a Press Statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adriana

According to him, “Following detailed briefing by security chiefs on the current situation in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari

”Television, radio and other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Radio Nigeria respectively for the broadcast”.

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National Issues

#ENDSARS: ‘Military offensive on protesters is an abomination, Akande -Sadipe talks tough

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Akande-Sadipe

The Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe has called on President Muhammed Buhari to address the killing of unarmed protesters across the nation, while condemning the killing of protesters by Armed Security operatives in the country.

Tolulope Akande Sadipe in a statement made available to journalists on Wednesday said, “I weep for my beloved country, Nigeria. This is the Darkest Moment in our Nation. The Current Action is Unacceptable”.

She wondered why men of the Nigerian Army turned on the people they were meant to Protect, firing live bullets at citizens holding the Nigerian Flag and chanting the National Anthem, describing such as an “Abomination”.

“I, as a member of the House of Representatives cannot keep quiet in the midst of this abominable action. I was duly elected to be the voice of my people and my people are weeping”, she said.

She opined that the protests were about a generation trying to end the systematic rot that pervades the society, which had eaten deep into the fabrics of the Nation.

The APC chieftain  continued, “We need to be honest with one another on this matter. We need to face the truth on ground. The youths were out there because they are tired and fed up of victimization, daily oppression, injustice, unemployment, untapped talents, lack of opportunity, poor healthcare, poor education and lack of infrastructure and power across the Nation. The Youths are protesting for a better future for themselves and their children. The #EndSARS PROTEST stands for the systematic ROT in our Nation.

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“This was about the realities on ground. This was about the ROT since independence. This was about genuine service to the people who elected us to represent them. This was not about the President, this was not about the current administration, this was not about North and South, this was not about Religion. This was not about party affiliation. This was about a Generation trying to end the systematic ROT that pervades our society”.

Speaking against the backdrop that there are some external forces pushing for the destruction of Nigeria, the lawmaker representing Oluyole Federal Constituency  said the Federal Government should genuinely address issues.

“Those alluding, that there is a 5th Columnist within or external, there is a solution. If there is a 5th columnist or external negative force, pushing for the destruction of Nigeria, if we do the right thing, by genuinely addressing the issues that have led to the distrust between leadership and our youths, by addressing the rot that has pervaded our Nation. The 5th columnist in our midst or external negative force, would fail. But with this action, what have we said to the Youth and to the world.

“This is the time to make the wrongs right and it is not by bringing out the Army to shoot its own citizens, that we achieve this. We can still put a stop to this inferno. We must realize that no position is permanent and it is the country we make that we shall all live in”, she added.

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Concluding, she empathized with all the families of fallen Youth Patriots, praying that their death would not be in vain.

 

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